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“What is truth?”

If I could choose one question to describe our current age, it would be this one. Every day, all around us, we can see how truth has been deemed relative and subjective. Everyone does what is right in their own eyes, and somebody’s perspective on truth cannot be questioned. To question someone else’s truth is considered unloving or even hateful.

And yet this question- “What is truth?”- is not new. Our questioning of truth began in the garden when Eve questioned if God was truly good. It has continued in every generation, decade, nation, and human heart since.

Right before being sent to be crucified, even Pilate asks Jesus:

“What is truth?”
John 18:38

As I was reading through John 18, it stood out to me that Pilate asks Jesus this question.

“Pilate, what do you mean ‘What is truth’?!” I thought to myself. Pilate knows the truth! All four Gospels speak about how Pilate knew Christ was innocent of the charges brought against Him:

John:


“…he [Pilate] went out again to the Jews and said to them,
‘I find no guilt in Him.’”

John 19:4

Mark:

“For he [Pilate] was aware that the chief priests
had handed Him over because of envy.”
Mark 15:10

“They shouted back, ‘Crucify Him!’But Pilate said to them, ‘
Why, what evil has He done?’
Mark 15:13-14

Luke:

“Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds,
‘I find no guilt in this man.’”
Luke 23:4

“Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again,
but they kept on calling out, saying, ‘Crucify, crucify Him!’”
And he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has this man done?
I have found in Him no guilt demanding death;
therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
Luke 23:20-22

Matthew:

“For he [Pilate] knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.”
Matthew 27:18

“While he [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous Man;
for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.”
Matthew 27:19

“And he [Pilate] said, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’
But they kept shouting all the more, saying, ‘Crucify Him!’
Matthew 27:23

 

Pilate knew the truth. Yet he decided to act against it. Why?

Mark’s Gospel tells us Pilate wished to satisfy the crowd. Matthew’s Gospel tells us Pilate saw “he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting” so he washed his hands of the situation and gave the people what they wanted. Luke tells us the people’s voices were loud, insistent, and prevailed, so Pilate granted their demand.

Pilate went against truth because he feared man more than he feared God. He went against what he knew was right, against his own wife’s advice (Mt. 27:19), and ultimately against God. Pilate knew the truth, but chose the path that appeared easier.
The path that would cause less conflict.
The path that would be more comfortable.

It is easy to know truth- it is much harder to live truth.

 

A Few Things We Know

James 1:22 tells us:

“But prove yourselves doers of the word,
and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

I like to think I’m better than Pilate- after all, he’s one of the biggest villains in the Bible! Of course if I had been in his shoes, there is no way I would have acted the same way. If I had been there that day, I would have done what I knew was right…right? Yet there are many ways that I too am tempted to be content with simply knowing truth and not living it in my daily life. I hear the Word all the time…I know it! But, like James says, hearing and doing are not the same thing.

I see this reality in my own life nearly every time I read Scripture. Maybe there are ways you likewise hear the truth but neglect to do the truth:

 

We know this truth from 1 Timothy 5:13:

At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies…

Yet daily we scroll from post to post indulging, critiquing, and discussing the latest news of friends and strangers alike.

 

We know this truth from Leviticus 19:11

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.

Yet when we know we forgot to do a homework assignment, or we come across copies of exams from students of previous semesters, or realize nobody is watching during our take-at-home test…we justify that taking a peek at a few questions or answers isn’t really that big of a deal.

 

We know this truth from Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Yet we complain, criticize, and vent frustrations to others about our parents or our spouse’s parents.

 

We know this truth from Psalm 119:47

“I shall delight in Your commandments, which I love.”

All throughout Psalm 119 the psalmist speaks of his deep love for God’s Word. It is a beautiful psalm, full of truth. Yet how often during my time reading my Bible do I find myself thinking more about my to-do list than delighting in the Word. I sometimes hear things said that don’t honor God, but choose to cringe and bite my tongue instead of sharing truth and risking a conflict.

How often I, like Pilate, know the truth but give in to my own desires instead of trusting God to help me live and stand for truth. Being a doer of the Word means putting God’s truth above my own desires, comfort, and fear of man. It will be challenging to live God’s truth. It will cause conflict. It will mean facing consequences. It will mean going against popular opinion and being uncomfortable. But we can have comfort remembering a life that knows and acts on truth glorifies God. When we walk in truth, we are imitating Christ.

 

So Where Do We Go From Here

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
1 John 3:18

We know Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

How, then, do we walk in truth? What does it look like to not just know truth, but to do truth? For me, spending time reading the Bible helps me do truth by reminding me what truth is. God gives us so much encouragement and direction from every book of His Word! Having a Bible reading plan to be accountable to each day has been helpful in staying committed to learning, reading, and applying truth to my life. Prayer is another way we grow in fighting our sin and walking in truth. We are able to pray and ask the Holy Spirit (“that is the Spirit of truth” John 14:17) to help us love and obey God. Lastly, being committed to the local church strengthens, encourages, and helps me grow in walking in the truth. The book of Hebrews tells us not to forsake assembling together, but to encourage one another (Hb. 10:25).

I pray God would strengthen us to not be like Pilate in giving in to our comfort and fear of man, but to be women of God who walk and live in His truth.

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”
3 John 4

Love,
Jackie